I wanted to share a couple of things I learnt yesterday regarding thyroid function. I wanted to know, because I see many women in my clinic with Hypothyroid and Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
1. Hypothyroid is the inability of the thyroid to produce enough T4 to be converted in the active thyroid hormones Free T4 and Free T3, which is done in the gut and liver.
2. Hashimotos's, which is an auto-immune disease (your body making antibodies fighting the gland) and you can have Hypothyroid without Hashimoto's. This is why your GP will "Wait and Watch" until the thyroid is totally destroyed by your immune system.
The usual treatment in BOTH cases is T4 supplementation (Levothyroxine), so your body has more T4 to convert into the active forms to keep you well.
Well, I learnt there is a snag with this - many women don't do well on T4 supplementation or on T4 only.
The reason more than likely is, is that your gut and/or liver is unable to convert T4 into enough of the active forms: you may be producing enough TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone made in the pituitary) and and subsequently T4 (made in the thyroid), but will not have enough Free T3 and FT4.
Also, if your body produces REVERSE T3 out of T4, it competes for the receptors of the Free T3 in your cells, therefore the FT3 cannot land on the receptors, giving you a lack of active thyroid hormone.
Symptoms of low thyroid function are many, but a few are: lack of energy, depression, hair loss, headaches and migraines, neck and shoulder pain, coldness, sore throat, recurrent acute infections, ear pain, dizziness and balance problems, constipation, anxiety, menstrual and fertility problems, cystic ovaries and breasts.
During your appointment with me, I advise all of my women to have their thyroid tested (blood test), because low thyroid function will increase risk for diseases like breast cancer, but also migraine and can even be the cause of Fibromyalgia or ME, conditions that are often not detected or mis-diagnosed. Medical Thermography can help in conjunction with thyroid and other testing to identify and confirm these conditions.
Thyroid tests should include TSH, T4, T3, Free T4 and Free T3 and Reverse T3. Don't let your GP fob you off.
Treatment should be T3, not T4, so that the T4 cannot be turned into the Reverse T3 and you can be reassured your body is having enough access to T3.
Problem is that your GP will only be willing to test TSH and T4 at a push. Treatment-wise T4 is cheap and will be the first medicine they will offer you.
T4 can be OK if your body can convert and this can be established after 3 months on T4 by testing everything again and importantly, see how you feel.
Be adamant all blood tests are important to make the right assessment.
If the Reverse T3 is high then know that you need T3 and not T4, because your body is converting the T4 into the wrong hormone!
What you can do yourself
Both Hypothyroid and Hashimoto's can benefit from T3 treatment, but since Hashimoto's is an auto-immune illness, lifestyle and diet changes are of more importance and value.
Since T4 is converted into the active forms in the gut and liver, people with bowel disease (Crohn's, IBS, Celiac or any other inflammatory bowel problem) or liver dysfunction (e.g. non alcoholic fatty liver disease or used of medications) will more than likely be short of active thyroid hormone.
It is essential to improve your diet to positively affect your gut and liver function by changing to a inflammation lowering diet.
Constipation, which is a symptom of low thyroid function, needs to be resolved by improving bowel motility.
Acid reflux is a big sign your digestion is out of whack.
Windiness and bloating is evidence of the wrong bacterial overgrowth in your gut.
You achieve good liver and gut health and lower inflammation very simply by reducing insulin response and insulin resistance by adopting a low carb diet: removing the majority of all types of carbohydrate AND fibre (yes! Get rid of "healthy" inflammation causing fibre) out of your diet will massively improve digestion.
Low carb diets reduce the amount of glucose (sugar) that is produced and we all know that sugar is highly inflammatory.
Lowering carbs will ALWAYS lower systemic inflammation.
Be alcohol aware.
Reduce stress. Chronic and prolonged state of Fight or Flight tires out the adrenal glands and raises cortisol (inflammatory). Often a adrenal dysfunction is at the core of thyroid dysfunction.
How I can help you
Medical Thermal imaging can help assess your core temperature by measuring the Brain Temperature Tunnel in the corner of your eyes and assess the heat over the thyroid gland. I do this as standard in my breast and body screening to help you give the best thyroid health advice I can.
A full body imaging can assess issues in the neck, often related to thyroid dysfunction and migraine headaches.
We can look at inflammation in muscle groups to assess for fibromyalgia and ME.
We can assess peripheral and small fibre neuropathy, which can be part of the symptoms of low thyroid function, but also of early signs of diabetes.
We look for gut inflammation and where is it.
I educate and support you in you transitioning to a low carb, higher protein and higher fat diet.
I am sorry, but cannot work with you when vegan or strict vegetarian because of the lack of quality essential bio-identical nutrients to heal your gut and thyroid and the very inflammatory nature of these diets.
Homeopathy can be a great supportive treatment for the thyroid gland and you as a whole. T3 medical treatment has been withdrawn in most of the UK, probably to cost (or being too effective??) and to buy the Triiodothyrosine (T3) can be a problem.
Homeopathically I would approach your condition as a totality first and find a remedy that suits you a the whole picture. Secondly we can support the thyroid with a tissue remedy.
I hope you have found the information as interesting as I did yesterday. I felt it had clarified a few things for me and this I wanted to share with you today.
If you know of someone who is struggling with thyroid related issues, please share this blog with them.
Love and health,
Janet van Dam